Suzanne Shepherd, Goodfellas Actor, Dead At 89

"Goodfellas" and "The Sopranos" actor Suzanne Shepherd has died at the age of 89. Shepherd's friend and fellow actor Tom Titone shared the news of her death on Facebook, and according to his post, the "Lolita" actor died early in the morning on Friday, November 17. A statement from Shepherd's talent agency, according to NBC News, shared that she is survived by her daughter Kate Shepherd, son-in-law Miles McManus, and granddaughter Isabelle Shepherd.

While most people will recognize Shepherd for playing Karen Hill's mother in Martin Scorsese's 1999 film "Goodfellas," she was also a renowned acting teacher and theater director. Actors that Shepherd worked with, according to her website, include James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, and Michelle Pfeiffer. 

After graduating college, Shepherd went on to study with Sanford Meisner, who developed the Meisner technique and approach to acting. After working with him, Shepherd went on to be the first woman to teach Meisner's technique, and the author of "The Sanford Meisner Approach," Larry Silverberg, once wrote, "Suzanne Shepherd is renowned as one of the finest acting teachers of our time. I, who have studied with her, tell you that if you are fortunate enough to get into her class, you've struck gold, my friend."

Suzanne Shepherd was beloved by many

Many people had great things to say about Suzanne Shepherd before her death. In an interview, Bebe Neuwirth said, "All you can do is talk about [Suzanne Shepherd] in these huge terms, and at that point, people stop believing you because nobody's that good, but I think she is." Joan Allen, who starred in "A Lesson from Aloes" with Danny Glover, said she fell in love with Shepherd, who was directing the play. Allen said, "I would describe Suzanne as probably one of the most passionate people I've ever met in my whole life."

Even those who didn't get a chance to work with Shepherd have admired her time on the screen. Shepherd's first big credit was as Aunt Tweedy in "Mystic Pizza" alongside Julia Roberts and Lili Taylor. Shepherd then went on to land roles in films like "Working Girl," "Uncle Buck," and "Goodfellas." TV fans will also recognize Shepherd as Mary DeAngelis, Tony Soprano's mother-in-law, from "The Sopranos."

After the news of Shepherd's death was announced online, fans started sharing tributes to the late actor on X, formerly Twitter. One fan wrote, "Suzanne Shepherd was perfection in 'The Sopranos.'" Tom Titone's post about Shepherd on Facebook not only revealed that she introduced him to his future husband, but Shepherd was "a huge presence. A BIG personality. She roared with life and at it." 

A Shiva will be held for Shepherd on November 20 and 21, while an official memorial service will be announced in early 2024.